I wrote a blog a bit over a month ago about my experience with Whole30. Since I wrote it, I’ve debated taking it down, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the fallout I’ve experienced since doing the program. Things have changed since my Whole30, and not all in good ways.
Am I a dietician or nutritionist with the knowledge or degree to back things up? I am not. Am I going to drop a bunch of links telling you why this diet is flawed? I am not (with the exception of this one here, this one right here, and maybe this one, where, if you look around, you’ll see the Slim Fast diet ranked higher on the list ).You’ve got google and a sense of curiosity, you can do that yourself. Instead I am going to give you my real life, post Whole30 thoughts and feelings.
I cannot, in good conscience, recommend Whole30. I mean, yes, it’s your body and if you want to do it, I can’t stop you. I know there’s a lot of great Whole30 success stories out there, and they make it tempting to try the plan. That’s how I got hooked into it. I didn’t feel well, knew I needed to change something, and all of the grandiose claims (red flag #1) about weight loss and improved health really spoke to me and got me pumped. That is exactly what a fad diet is supposed to do. It’s supposed to hit you at a visceral level, it’s supposed to make you feel like it’s the “One True Answer to All of Your Problems.”
Fad diets are NOT the answer. Ever. I have YEARS of experience in this area. The only explanation I can give for why I fell for it is a complete sense of desperation.
When I was reading the books that outline Whole30 and all the reasons why it’s so good, there was an inkling in my mind that said, “eh, something about this doesn’t seem right.” (red flag #2) I ignored that. Now, the more time passes post Whole30, and the more non-Whole30-subsidized reading I do, I really wish I had listened to that voice.
The grandiose claims for instance. There’s TONS of them, ranging from weight loss to apparent cessation of medical conditions. I’m not saying these people are lying about their experiences. If they did have tons of success, I’m happy for them. I do think those claims are leaving out a lot of important information (red flag #3), though, like what were they eating before Whole30? Did they only do the diet for 30 days, or did they do it longer? Seriously, if someone who eats a diet that’s primarily processed foods starts eating whole, clean food OF COURSE they’re going to see positive results. Switching from a fast food diet to food you prepare at home and have control over is going to provide anybody with better nutrition. I think its fair to say that’s a common sense conclusion (which you are free to disagree with).
In the books, particularly It Starts with Food, they have a lot of resources listed to back their claims. I haven’t read all of them since they are not all easily accessible (i.e. available on a website for my lazy ass to read) but ones I’ve looked at feel very cherry picked. They come from entities who are already pro-paleo or anti-grain. You can always find both sides of an argument, and yes, you do want to use the research that backs up what you’re saying. I’m not saying they did a bad thing doing that, if anything it should have been me who did more vetting. However, using bully language (red flag #4) to make people believe your way is the Right Way, and that your one-sided claims are The Only Truth ? That doesn’t sit right with me.
I didn’t mention in my last blog, but they offer daily email support. Yes, it cost like $15, but I wanted the extra support and elusive resources those emails were supposed to give me. At the end of the daily email you click a button that either says “yes, I stayed on plan. Go me” or “No, I fucked up, so now I have to start over.” (not exactly what they said, but that’s how my brain remembers them) The emails were, in some ways, kind of alarming. They were full of broken links (red flag #5) so I didn’t get all of the resources and benefits I expected. There were also several instances where they person they linked to had decided paleo was not so great after all (red flag #6). The newest articles were at least two years old (red flag #7. SERIOUSLY, WOMAN HOW DID YOU IGNORE ALL OF THESE RED FLAGS???).
Just after the half way point, one of the emails addressed how to decide if you should start over if you slipped up. “Did you drink some wine or eat grains? Then abso-fucking-lutely you should start over. That’s what we tell you from the start. But if you ate salad dressing and then found out there was agave nectar in it? Eh, don’t worry. A little sugar isn’t that big of a deal, really.”
I’m supposed to be “slaying my sugar dragon” and you’re now saying that a slip up on sugar isn’t that big of a deal (red flag #8)? I clicked my “go me, I win” button and closed my email thinking ,”did they actually just fucking throw out their own hard and fast must be follow rules and expect me to feel good about that?”
The last ten days of emails were the worst. They were the most pro-paleo of the bunch. The subject of reintroducing foods was addressed, along with the question of “how do I know if I should continue my Whole30?” They say its never “Whole365” but 45, 60, 90? Thats not necessarily a bad idea, but Whole30 is still really awesome and life changing. But then, in these last days of emails, that they FINALLY admit (red flag #9) that no, 30 days is not going to undo years of bad eating. They recommend continuing if you’re either not feeling the awesome effects (red flag #10), are seriously high on said awesome effects (red flag #11), or if you haven’t “slain your sugar dragon.” Oh, you mean the sugar dragon I might have fed with that “heh, a little sugar ain’t bad” sweeter I might have slipped up and eaten? That before that one email I would have led me to dejectedly start the program over feeling like a failure (red flag #12)? Yeah. That’s the one. Its safe to say, I was seriously pissed.
My results weren’t earth shattering, which I outlined in my last blog. Did I learn some things? Sure I did. I think the most important thing I learned is that obsessing over food and trying to stick to a really strict plan is not a healthy option, ESPECIALLY when it comes to your mental health. One of the reasons I didn’t blog right after I finished the program was because I felt so miserable, mislead, and turned around by the whole thing (not to mention feeling like a big ol’ failure in general) that I was kind of depressed. But since I’d put so much work into the diet, and did learn from it, I tried to wrap it up in a semi-optimistic bow for anyone else who might have done it and felt lousy at the end. Cause I’m helpful like that, you know?
Have I continue on a good eating path since then? Well, considering I just ate peanut M&M’s for breakfast, had McDonalds at midnight a couple days ago, and some days only eat a handful of almonds in the morning and then nothing until dinner because I’m too fucking annoyed and tired to want to mess with preparing anything, its safe to say I haven’t. If anything, I’ve felt too bummed and burned out to care. Yes, there is an obesity epidemic that has been fueled by the wide availability and ease of crappy food. I know what foods to eat most of the time, and which ones to eat in moderation (actually, maybe I should write a diet book). I’m just not doing it because I have no wind in my sails at the moment. Yet another fad diet failed me, and while that’s not a surprise, I’m really angry with myself for falling for it.
I know I don’t get a lot of traffic here, but if you, too, stumble across this after feeling duped by Whole30 and want to commiserate? I welcome you. Also, if you are pro-Whole30 and want to leave me a comment defending the diet, go ahead. However, if your comment is full of unnecessary vitriol that doesn’t lead to reasonable discussion, I probably will ignore it.
Now I should probably go eat some real food. Preferably something with gluten . . .